Review: Seagate Packs 750 Gbytes Into a Single Hard-Disk Drive

A mere decade ago, 1-Gbyte hard drives were priced at nearly $1,000. Fast forward 10 years, and Seagate has introduced a 750-Gbyte hard drive, the Barracuda 7200.10 750 GB, for $590.

Marc Spiwak, Contributor

September 20, 2006

3 Min Read

A mere decade ago, 1-Gbyte hard drives—considered state-of-the-art at the time—were priced at nearly $1,000. Fast forward 10 years, and Seagate has introduced its 750-Gbyte hard drive, the Barracuda 7200.10 750 GB, for $590. This means that the same 1 Gbyte of storage space of yesteryear now costs less than $1. Seagate's timing is good, as hard drives are being used in a lot more than just desktop PCs, and no amount of storage space seems to be too much.

The first desktop hard drive on the market to reach 750 Gbytes in capacity, Seagate's entire Barracuda 7200.10 line of hard drives use perpendicular recording technology to reach new levels of areal density and capacity. Offered in capacities ranging from 200 Gbytes to 750 Gbytes, the Barracuda 7200.10 maintains a data density of 130 Gbits per square inch and up to 188 Gbytes per disk platter. With the introduction of the Barracuda 7200.10 family of desktop drives, Seagate's perpendicular recording technology is now used across its complete range of hard drives.

At one time, the only way to give a system three quarters of a terabyte of storage space was to install multiple drives. But using multiple drives increases cost, complexity and build time, and multiple hard drives generate more heat than a single drive. Removing that extra heat is typically done by adding more cooling fans, but that only helps to increase a system's cost, complexity and build time. Perpendicular recording leaves data bits standing on end (like dominos) rather than flat to the surface—as is the case with longitudinal recording—a benefit in that it improves performance without increasing spin speed and power consumption. The more tightly the bits are packed, the more data can pass under the drive head in the same amount of time.

The Barracuda 7200.10 750 GB has a 3-Gbps Serial ATA, or SATA II interface, which is enhanced with Native Command Queuing (NCQ). The NCQ protocol basically allows a hard drive to process multiple commands at once. An internal queue allows the commands to be executed in the most efficient order rather than the order in which they were received.

The Barracuda 7200.10 drives also are enhanced with Adaptive Fly Height technology, which varies the distance between the disk head and platter based on changes in environmental operating conditions. The technology allows for more consistent read/write performance. The drive also passes the head over the entire platter on power-up to smooth out any surface irregularities and improve reliability.

Keep in mind that 750 Gbytes is a lot of data, and if that data is lost, the outcome could be pretty painful and possibly catastrophic. Therefore, system builders using this drive are advised to include some sort of backup device such as a a tape drive or external hard drive. Another option is to install two of the 750-Gbyte hard drives in a mirrored fashion so that if one should ever fail, the data will be preserved on the second drive.

The Barracuda 7200.10 750 GB was tested for performance using PassMark's PerformanceTest software, which can be used for free by anyone for up to 30 days. The drive was tested in an advanced system consisting of a 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor with 1 Gbyte of Kingston Technology memory installed on an Intel D975XBX motherboard. The drive performed a sequential read at 70.9 MBps and a sequential write at 63.8 MBps.

The Barracuda 7200.10 750 GB drive meets the storage capacity, performance and reliability requirements of both desktop computers and low-end servers. It's ideal for use in media center PCs, video editing stations, digital video recorders (DVRs) and set-top boxes, RAID arrays and external storage drives. Any application where a lot of low-cost storage is needed in a small amount of space will benefit.

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